The problem of access is enduring and significant for fieldwork-based research on media production, but some periods are more challenging than others. When scholars gathered in Leeds in 2013 to discuss advancing the field, the United Kingdom news media were in a turbulent time. The phone-hacking practices of certain newspapers and the subsequent scrutiny of the Leveson Inquiry had scholars wondering whether the notoriously uncooperative private press, attempting to show goodwill and best behaviour, might open its doors to independent research in the context of an imminent change in the regulatory regime (Brock, 2012; Grayson and Freedman, 2013). Meanwhile, the public broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), was under intense scrutiny for its failure to broadcast an investigation into the criminal behaviour of one of its star presenters, Jimmy Savile. What had been a slightly more open door for production research was closing, and my own research on relations between journalists and Muslim sources in Glasgow, Scotland, suffered because of this process. Whatever goodwill gestures may or may not have occurred among private broadcasters and the press, they did not manifest in an invitation to pick up the BBC’s slack.
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